Making Science Fun and Interesting
This year I flew to San Jose for the 2012 California Science Education Conference. You might be wondering what drew me to this particular conference. As a progressive educator, I am constantly looking to develop my knowledge base especially in the area of Life Studies. Studying a subject deeply demands more knowledge, skill and creativity than simply browsing over a wide variety of topics lightly. The personal questions I took to the conference included:
- What are effective practices for teaching science to difference types of learners?
- How can I engage my students in science studies?
- What are some lessons I can use that allow kids to explore and develop their own understanding?
I arrived in San Jose Thursday night and was up bright and early for my first workshop Friday morning. Friday and Saturday I went to workshops and lectures presented by science educators and scientists from across the country. I even squeezed in a workshop on teaching solar energy on Sunday morning before Super Shuttle arrived. The workshops were not only educational, but fun and exciting. The best ones were given by professionals who were passionate about their work. For example, Rachel Zimmerman-Brachman, an educator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, was thrilled to teach how studying Saturn and the Cassini mission makes for great poetry writing, detailed drawings and reports. Her enthusiasm for space was infectious!
Another highlight of my trip was a night out at The Tech Museum. It was closed Saturday for conference members only. We explored the entire museum and got to know each other better along the way. One highlight was a series of globes showing energy consumption, life expectancy, access to water and literacy by percent worldwide. That and a giant game of Jinga!
My biggest lesson from the conference actually came in the form of play. I was in a wonderful workshop on making rockets with kids on Saturday afternoon. After a many hours of learning, I noticed that I really missed the verbal and written instructions. When did I come alive and hook into learning? When we went out to play of course! This reminded me of how I must have a variety of ways to reach different learners. I need to move and I am sure many of them do too! The rockets blasted off and so did my understanding of the science concepts being taught.
As a teacher I want to continue to learn and grow. I feel incredibly grateful to have opportunities to attend conferences and workshops that will help me better teacher. When I returned, I enjoyed sharing with my colleagues all I learned. What an enriching experience!